Introducing Linux is becoming as unnecessary as introducing King Kong, which it's coming more and more to resemble. If you have no idea what it is, take a look at the Linux Documentation Project or Linux HQ for technical information. You can get Linux from Red Hat Software, Caldera, or S.u.S.E, among others. Each has additional information on their sites. There is a Linux Category at Yahoo.
However, my own strong personal preference is Debian GNU/Linux. This is a distribution created by a group of volunteers, collaborating over the Internet. Though there are several commercial distributions based on Debian (Stormix and Corel Linux), you can (and arguably are best served) by installing (not downloading) Debian off the Internet. Debian's core features are its very robust system upgrade, update, and dependency resolution system, known as apt (a package tool), and the associate deb Debian package format, combined with the Debian Policy Manual, which describes policy requirements concerning filesystem layout, application inclusion, and documentation. The result is an extremely coherent, robust, and flexible GNU/Linux distribution.
Updated November 23, 2000
As Linux grows in use, it has been attacked directly and indirectly with increasing frequency in the trade press. While there are legitimate criticisms to make of Linux, many of the articles are simply non-factual -- what real men call lies -- or distort the truth in pernicious ways. This is a time-honored tradition in technology, the acronym FUD, for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt was coined by Gene Amdahl for the tactics used by IBM to raise questions in clients minds about the suitability of competing products.
Arguably, the main rush of FUD had slowed somewhat -- GNU/Linux is supported by such pillars of IT as IBM, Dell, and Oracle. Though disinformation continues to be spread (much of it directly traceable to Microsoft, no surprise), coverage by and large is fairly balanced. Several former FUDmeisters are largely reformed. Others are almost completely discredited -- does anyone take Microsoft-shill-for-life Fred Moody seriously any more?
There already are a Linux FUD FAQ and a Linux Myth Dispeller. Rather than duplicate their efforts, I thought start building a list of comments (and responses) to FUD-mongering articles posted in the trade press. Just what is behind this activity is of great interest in light of Microsoft's PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom, and its crusade as disclosed by Dan Gillmor of the SJ Mercury News.
My own minor contribution, an exchange with Mike Elgan, writing for TechWeb.
- His column "The Death of Windows" appeared in Tech Net September 1, 1998 (Internet
Archive copy). After raising a number of poor, and a couple of
valid, points about Linux, Mike closed with an invitation to
comment "good or bad?", and his email address.
My first response was brief. Mike asked if I could elaborate. I did, in a measured manner, at length. The article disappeared shortly afterwards, and doesn't even turn up in keyword search on Mike's name. So far as I know, the portions quoted in my mail are the only remaining record.
I spend too much time of my life on several GNU/Linux mailing lists and support groups. I've begun to compile some frequently iterated responses into FAQs and/or mini-HOWTOs, covering some of the more useful topics. Included to date:
- Backups: What, where, why, when, and how.
- Browsers: They all suck.
- Linux Books...and other references.
- Partitioning: Splitting up is hard to do....
And, for the heck of it, I've posted some gratuitious screenshots. Note to the bandwidth-challenged, the 1/4-size "thumbnails" are still pretty hefty of themselves.